Copper Thieves Hit Magnolia Speech School - - Jackson, MS

Jackson 12/17/07

Copper Thieves Hit Magnolia Speech School

By David Kenney

A burglary at a Jackson school has left students and faculty without heat in the coldest season of the year. 

Sometime over the weekend, copper thieves broke into the heating and cooling units at the Magnolia Speech School. The cost to replace the damages now totals thousands. The damage wasn't discovered until students and teachers returned for class Monday.

Three of the school's heating and A.C. units are completely torn apart. The valuable copper coils and wiring inside were cut out. Respresentatives from the school believe the thieves entered through a giant hole cut in the fence. 

"It's just hard to understand that anybody would come in at Christmastime, or any other time, and make it harder than it already is to get these children the services they need," said Magnolia's executive director, Anne Sullivan. 

"This is somebody who has the knowledge of electricity -- maybe a journeyman or contractor," said Jackson police spokesman Jeffery Scott. "(The were) very surgical, very precision-like. It probably took about twenty minutes to get this amount of copper."

School officials estimate the damage at $100,000. They'll have to pay off a sizable insurance deductable before any repair work can be done.

Jackson police were called out to the school around 8:00 Friday night to a disturbance, but reported there was no sign a theft had occurred.

"The air units are placed in a pretty inconspicous place," said Sergeant Scott. "It could have happened anytime between the time when we initially got the call."

Police recommend businesses secure big HVAC units because of the sizable damage that can be done by copper thieves. 

Those at the non-profit school say it's hard to believe some thieves could be so greedy in the season of giving.

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